Yesterday’s news that the DoJ and IRS are digging into Binance amid whispers about allegations of tax fraud, manipulation and AML violations was just the latest indication from the government that it is taking enforcement of securities taxes tied to crypto wealth very seriously. In case that wasn’t already clear, WSJ published a story in its “Tax Report” section (with the federal tax deadline just days away at May 17) reminding readers that the IRS under President Joe Biden is coming for your crypto wealth – and those that don’t cough it up might be subject to harsh penalties, both financial and criminal.
It starts by reminding readers that two new IRS investigations to catch crypto tax cheats targeting various exchanges have been launched in recent months. In April, a judge in Boston approved an IRS summons to the payments company Circle and its affiliates, including the crypto exchange Poloniex. In May, a judge in San Francisco approved a similar summons for records from Kraken, another exchange based in California. Both summonses apply to customers who have traded more than $20K in crypto in any single year between 2016 and 2020.
“With these summonses and other actions, the IRS is mounting a full-court press to show taxpayers how seriously it takes cryptocurrency compliance,” says Don Fort, a former chief of IRS criminal investigation now with Kostelanetz & Fink. “Taxpayers should take it seriously too.”
Crypto exchanges don’t report client information to the IRS like discount digital brokerages do, so there’s temptation for traders to try and skate by. But if this approach worked in the past, be warned: that could change this year now that the Dems are back in power.
Binance doesn’t even allow American customers to trade on its platform (though it has been accused of illegally doing so by turning a blind eye to users trying to skirt this rule), but other investigations and summonses of note go back even further. In 2016, the IRS received approval for a similar summons for Coinbase and obtained information for about 13K customers. The agency sent letters urging many of them to make sure their crypto taxes were paid, as the IRS might soon be taking a hard look.